The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has denied an application for an exemption from the 14-hour provision of the hours-of-service rules that would have let truck drivers serving oil and natural gas fields to exclude waiting time from their calculations of on-duty time.
The request had been made almost two years ago by the American Trucking Associations. Currently, only specially trained drivers of commercial motor vehicles built specifically to service the oil patch may use the exemption.
FMCSA said that ATA had proposed that the agency issue a limited, 2-year exemption to permit exclusion of such waiting time by drivers of commercial motor vehicles who serve oil and natural gas extraction fields and can rest while waiting at such sites.
The agency noted that ATA had suggested that “trucks equipped with sleeper berths” and “on-site bunking or resting facilities” would satisfy the “rest opportunity” standard.
Despite that argument as well as support for the proposed exemption stated by 21 out of the 37 “various transportation interests” that publicly commented on the docket, FMCSA concluded that “ATA did not demonstrate how the CMV operations under such an exemption would achieve a level of safety equivalent to or greater than the level of safety obtained in the absence of the exemption.”
The agency argued that fatigue would result in a safety risk because the 60- and 70-hour rules would remain in effect if the exemption or petition were granted.
“The proposed relief from the 14-hour rule would enable miscellaneous off-duty periods at the oil or natural gas work sites to be excluded when determining whether the individual may operate the CMV during the work day. This creates the potential for extremely long work days provided the individual has not accumulated 14 hours of on-duty time prior to completing his/her driving tasks for the day,” stated FMCSA.
“This may represent an extreme condition,” the agency added, “but the current waiting time exception does not include a limit and the ATA's request would extend this potentially risky option to a wider population of oil and natural gas workers.”